The Biden administration has voiced support for the US and Egypt’s security relationship amid ongoing debates about holding back part of the $1.3 billion security assistance it sends to Cairo over continuous human rights abuses.
The Hill reports that top officials in the defence and state departments have stressed how important it is for US security assistance to Egypt to continue given Egypt’s management of the Suez Canal and its role in the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza in May.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defence in the Middle East, Dana Stroul, told a hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East, “the bottom line for President Biden is that he values the relationship with Egypt, he believes they are an important security partner.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs Mira Resnick said that Egypt is a “critical security partner.”
“The president himself has underscored the importance of a constructive dialogue on human rights with the government of Egypt and we will continue to pursue this, even as we pursue shared security goals on maritime security, on border security, on counter terrorism.”
Democrats Tom Malinowski and Adam Schiff have advocated for cutting $75 million of assistance to Egypt over the Sisi regime’s detention of political prisoners and the harassment of American citizens, including Mohamed Soltan, whose father has been forcibly disappeared within Egypt’s prisons and whose family were arrested in Egypt after Soltan filed a lawsuit against the former Egyptian prime minister for overseeing his torture.
The Egyptian regime has also tortured and disappeared the family of outspoken asylee Aly Hussin Mahdy, who lives in Chicago.
Senator Chris Murphy, chairman of the Senate panel on the Middle East, is calling on the government to withhold a waiver that delivers $300 million in military assistance, saying that the Egyptian military focuses “more on internal repression that on regional security.”
“This is a country that is receiving significant US aid, $1.3 billion a year, and in the midst of a dizzying crackdown on political dissent.”
The subject of why the US is giving such high amounts of military aid to Egypt when human rights abuses are so systematic has angered rights advocates across the world who have accused the American administration of supporting repression in Egypt.
Joe Biden promised last year that there would be no more “blank cheques” for Trump’s “favourite dictator”.